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The Loire Valley

The Loire is a beautiful valley that was once the playground of royalty...now it is where Parisians head for a day in the country. A trip through any of the great homes of the area will shine a light on the role of the aristocracy in France and fill your day with unforgettable memories.

We began our trip to the Loire with a stop for groceries in Orlean. The city is which Joan d'Arc successfully defended from an English attack. As you travel through the Loire, the shadow of the young saint is often looming. In Chinon, Joan d'Arc met King Charles VII for the first time; in Patay, she has one of her greatest victories. Every year the city celebrates the young heroine with a parade on May 8 and other activities for a series of days, including the selection of a local girl to portray the part of Joan. The city brings its medieval history back to life with outdoor markets and games.

We drove through the back roads of Orleans, not looking for Joan d"Arc but for provisions for our first few days of camping. We found them in a small grocery store and headed toward the great chateaus of France.